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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

G8 seeks environmentally friendly workplaces

Staff writer

NIIGATA — Labor representatives of the Group of Eight industrialized nations agreed Tuesday that they must take measures to deal with the impact climate change will have on the labor market.

The agreement was announced on the final day of the three-day labor meeting in Niigata.

In a chairman's conclusion released at the end of the summit, participants agreed that policy responses to fight climate change are likely to force industries to cut costs, and concurrently to slash jobs.

The G8 nations — Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia — agreed to help "displaced workers from affected industries to make a transition to new jobs," the statement said.

Participants also said they will encourage job training related to environment-friendly technologies, as well as energy-saving policies in the workplace, the statement said.

It is the first time labor representatives of the G8 nations discussed how climate change will affect the labor market.

The G8 nations agreed on the need for a coherent balance of growth, employment, productivity and environmental protection, the statement said.

"Labor is a core aspect of economic activities that affect the global environment," said Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe, who hosted the meeting. "It is necessary to deal with the change of the environment in terms of labor policy to create a sustainable society."

Growing disparities within countries was also a hot topic at the labor summit.

"Globalization and technological change offer the world economy potential opportunities for more wealth, growth, employment and better lives for people," the statement said. "At the same time, they can entail disparities and adjustment difficulties in labor markets."

To reduce these disparities, the G8 nations agreed to promote further job training for vulnerable workers, including nonregular workers and immigrants, to support their career development.

As industrialized nations face increasingly graying societies and declines in their workforces, a better work-life balance is necessary to encourage workers to continue working, the conclusion stated.

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The Japan Times

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